Single Motherhood

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It’s been a while…

My life has been turned upside down and I haven’t had the time, energy or heart for blogging really.

A little less than two months ago, Hedgehog left me for another woman. His ex-wife of all people. They’d been having an affair for months, he later confessed. 

The news hit me like a freight train. As far as I knew everything was fine, and then one evening he just left with no real explanation. That was hard enough, but it took him a couple of weeks to admit why he’d left. Finding out about the affair was emotionally devastating. And I’m having to contend with the ongoing emotional rollercoaster of being involved with him and his new family. He Facetimes Nookie daily and I can hear his new fiancé (yeh you read that right… they were engaged less than two weeks after he left!) in the background. Nookie likes to talk to his other kids. And I have to see him every week when he visits the kids. Which is all really really hard. 

So I’m now a single mother. Which is exhausting. I’ve had to claim single parent benefits (which are basically the minimum you need to live on). I have no car. I have six cats to take care of on top of everything else. 

I’ve also started to experience quite bad anxiety. It’s subsided a little now, but a couple of weeks ago it was so bad I could barely function. I never get a moment to myself. I never stop with the mountain of housework and childcare I now do single-handedly. I also have to start thinking about getting a job, as I can only claim income support until Smushface is five. I have to attend regular meetings at the job centre to help get me back into work (patronising much!).

So yeh… things aren’t great. I’m surviving, but barely, and only because of my amazing friends who have been just fantastic through everything! They’ve been helping me from the very moment Hedgehog left, and continue to offer invaluable emotional support. I don’t know what I’d have done without them. And my family too, who have helped so much with practical stuff. 

Day-to-day life is immensely stressful right now. There’s no one to help when things are tough. When Smushface has fallen to sleep on me and Nookie wants something to eat, there’s no one to help me out. When they’re both having a meltdown and I’m stuck on the sofa there’s no one to get me a drink when I’m desperately thirsty. We have to take the train or bus everywhere, which is hard with two little kids, expensive, and the bus/train routes aren’t great. There are a lot of places we simply can’t get to anymore. We only just have enough money to get by. There’s nothing for all the extras Nookie was used to like new computer games and trips out. She’s really struggling with that. I miss the dog, who went with Hedgehog because I couldn’t manage him on my own (I tried, but it was too much). 

But the hardest thing isn’t any of this, hard as it is. The hardest thing is not having anyone to talk to all the time. I go days now without seeing another adult. There’s no one to text when I’m at the park and the kids are being a nightmare and I need some moral support. There’s no one to talk to when the kids are in bed. There’s no one to rant to when I’m having a hard day. I’ve lost my best friend. The person I thought I could depend on more than anyone else. He just threw us away like we were nothing. And now I’m all alone, with only my children to keep me company.

 
It sucks. 

So yeh… I don’t think I’ll be blogging much anymore. I don’t have any extra energy or enthusiasm right now. I’ll probably keep up with my vegan blog if people want to follow me there (www.skintveganmummy.wordpress.com). But otherwise, this might be goodbye…

Parenting Two Kids

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It’s one child being awake until 11.30pm and the other being up at 8am. 

It’s constantly having at least two conversations. 

It’s getting three people washed and dressed in the morning.

It’s constant battles over who gets to play with the toy child two only wants because they saw child one playing with it!

It’s being out on your own with them, having them run in opposite directions, and choosing which one to chase after. 

It’s “look at this mummy” a million times a day!

It’s not having a single moment to yourself ever!

It’s trying to shave your legs in the bath that contains two children as well as yourself 

It’s having to put things out of the reach of child two, then having to move them again so child one can reach them. 

It’s going upstairs to the toilet and being stuck up there for an hour because the toddler discovered toothpaste and your other child wondering where the hell you’ve gone!

It’s child two getting upset because child one is crying, so having a crying child snuggled into each arm. 

It’s cooking three different meals at least three times a day. 

It’s being torn apart inside because both children want your full attention all day long and neither is willing to compromise. 

It’s the feeling that you’ll never be enough, and someone is always being neglected. You are always neglected. 

It’s going into the kitchen to get a drink and three hours later remembering that you never got that drink because one child fell down and then the other needed help with something, and then something got spilled, and then someone knocked on the door…

It’s getting to the end of the day and feeling that if anyone else touches you you might scream. 

It’s sleeping wedged between the two of them, switching from side to side to snuggle each of them in turn as they wake up and need cuddles. 

It’s going to a play date and wondering why you bothered as you hardly get to say two words to your friends. 

It’s inhaling every meal at light speed before the toddler starts trashing the house because you’re distracted for five minutes. 

It’s carrying the toddler, the laptop, changing bag, two teddies, a blanket and your phone out to the car with you in one go. 

It’s scribbles on the walls, spilled drinks all over the carpets, food crushed into every crevice and chocolate fingerprints EVERYWHERE. 

It’s no break. No let up. No day off. 

…..

It’s awesome. I wouldn’t change a single minute!

Going Veggie

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In other news, I’ve stopped eating meat. It’s something I’ve been thinking about and transitioning towards for a long time, but last week I finally made a decision. I just can’t live with the idea of eating meat anymore. It seems so wrong.

I’m also gradually moving towards a vegan diet, though this is a little scary for me and is taking a lot more thought and time. Not eating meat is simple. Not eating dairy or eggs is another matter entirely! It’s not something I can bring myself to do in a short period, but it is something I can do gradually. A vegan friend of mine made the good point that every time I choose non-dairy/eggs instead of dairy/eggs is a positive choice. And when I think of it that way it isn’t so overwhelming.

So we’ll see. It’s a work in progress.

Goodbye Friend

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We had to have our dog Viktor put to sleep yesterday. He’d been refusing food and losing weight for a while. And then we noticed him sleeping much more and becoming weaker. Hedgehog took him to the vet last week for some tests and yesterday the vet told him he had kidney failure. He reckoned he only had a few days left, so Hedgehog made the hard decision to do the kindest thing for him. 

It was hard. We’d had him for about seven years. He was a big, lovable dufus. So friendly. So patient. So calm. Clumsy and stoopid and in the way all the time. 

Nookie was beside herself. She’s just at the age of really understanding what death means. I’d explained before he went to the vet what might happen, but I don’t think she really understood until he’d gone. 

And of course Arfur is just distraught. He’s done nothing but mooch around looking sad, snuggling up to us at every opportunity. He keeps looking at his bed like he expects Viktor to be there. He won’t eat. He misses his brother so much. 

We all do. I had a love/hate relationship with Viktor. He was a pain. He regularly walked shit into the house. He was so awkward with food. He drove me crazy! But he was also sweet and lovable. He would let the kids do anything to him and never complained. He was a gentle giant. 

People say losing a dog is like losing a member of the family. I never really understood that until now. But then I look over at the dog bed and expect to see him laying there, half sprawled into the middle of the room and I know what they mean. 

Goodbye big fella. 

   
    
 

Fugue

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These days… they’re getting harder. I’m getting worn out. I’m getting angrier. Kids. They’re such hard work. 

I find the joy. I find it a hundred times a day. Every morning I get up and summon up all my enthusiasm. And every night I end the day a quivering wreck, utterly spent and entirely out of fucks. 

We’re going through a rough patch. Smushface is refusing to go to sleep at night. Tonight it was 11.10pm when she was finally asleep! Nookie is going through a stubborn phase and there’s often no talking her around. She is having night terrors some nights and keeping me up. Smushface has started waking repeatedly through the night. 

Gradually they’re wearing me down. I’m starting to get that worn out mum look… the one where you haven’t showered or brushed your hair in days, your pyjamas are permanently covered in chocolate (I don’t usually manage to wear clothes anymore), and you let the baby play in the dog water bowl just so she’ll stop shrieking.

In the space of ten minutes today I managed to burn melted chocolate that I was making for Nookie, put the second lot where Smushface could reach it, and consequently she pulled the bowl off the sofa and smashed it – melted chocolate all over the carpet, and be vomitted over. By the vomiting bit I was so over it I just laughed and stripped us both naked in the kitchen. Fuck it. 

But they’re asleep now. Somehow. It took a mammoth tag team effort from myself and Hedgehog. I did some shouting and lots of protesting. Smushface did lots of screaming. Nookie backed down from an argument for once, seeming to recognise how stressed I was (bless her). They’re asleep. I can sleep. Sleep… and do it all again tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that. 

I love them. I love them more than life. They’re my whole world. But fuck me they’re hard work!

What I Achieved Today

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It’s one of those days where I feel like I’ve been chasing my own tail all day like some sort of demented dog, and never actually achieved anything. These sorts of days are getting increasingly frequent as Smushface gets older. The kids… they run me ragged! I don’t ever seem to pause for breath. Even as I write this I’m also trying to feed Smushface to sleep in the sling. And I know the second I go downstairs once I’m done Nookie will be on me to play with her some more. It’s never ending. 

But damn it I have achieved stuff today! Shut up little voice. You’re a yapping little cunt. Yes I know there’s a pile of laundry as tall as me in the hall that I didn’t get around to sorting today. Yes I know I forgot to make the appointment for Smushface’s vaccinations (after I forgot her original appointment) again! Yes I am slightly drunk. So fucking what?! Look…

Today:

I wrote out the shopping list I couldn’t do yesterday because I had to put Smushface back to bed SEVEN fucking times!!!

I found the paperwork we need to be able to take the poorly dog to the (charity) vet this week – buried under a load of shit in the spare room. 

I cooked pancakes for the kids (Nookie’s favourite breakfast) and then chased Smushface around trying to get her to actually eat rather than feed it to the dog!

I went food shopping to the market and supermarket with Smushface in tow

I took back the library books that were a month overdue and got some new ones I thought Nookie might like

I took some stuff to the charity shop that’s been sitting in the hall for months

I came home and put Smushface down for a nap, and while she napped played some x-box games with Nookie

I cooked dinner. The feta I used in the meal was off or something (it tasted like a horse!) so I had to throw it away and salvage something from the ingredients I had left over

I’ve changed about eight nappies today and changed Smushface’s clothes three times

I’ve spent about three hours in total today breastfeeding, usually whilst also doing something else

I helped Nookie play an Xbox game and played a few others with her (sonic, etc)

I read Smushface some books from the library 

Hedgehog and I talked about some financial stuff and made some important decisions (whilst also playing with the kids)

I found some new clothes for Nookie to look through on eBay 

And look, I blogged!

So screw you little voice! I’m not lazy. I’ve had a really hardcore day. Yes it might look like I’ve sat around all day doing bugger all, but you know, YOU KNOW I haven’t stopped all bloody day! I’m still feeding Smushface in the sling. She’s almost asleep enough to transfer. I’ve been standing here nearly half an hour. My feet and back are killing me. And in a minute I’m going to go downstairs and most likely play with Nookie for the rest of the night until it’s time for her to go to bed. Then I’ll make her a snack, read her bedtime stories and finally, at about 11.20pm, she’ll be asleep. I work from 7.30am until 11.20pm most days (and often through the night too) without a single break. 

So shut up little voice. Screw you!

Unschooling with Video Games

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Nookie is a gamer. She loves video games passionately. And lately she is all about YouTube and the games that YouTubers play. She watches hours of her favourite YouTuber videos: iHasCupquake, Jacksepticeye, Markiplier, Pewdiepie and others… and then I have to download the games for her to play. At the minute she’s very into Yandere Simulator, Who’s Your Daddy, Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare, CHKN, and Scribblenauts. She plays them for hours most days. She was previously very into Jazzpunk and Octodad, but having played them through so many times she could do the whole of the games within a couple of hours I think she’s tired of them now. She has also started dipping her toe into The Sims and Age of Empires, though she needs a lot of help from an adult with these as they involve reading. Minecraft is always a firm favourite, but she plays it less these days than she used to.

There is so much learning value in these games (they’re costing us a fortune though! lol). She gets to learn about strategy for example. Who’s Your Daddy is a two player game where you play as either a daddy or baby: the baby has to try to kill himself, via a number of methods, and the daddy has to try to stop him. When she plays as the daddy she has to anticipate what the other player will do and plan the order she will baby-proof the house in to try to stop the baby.

Scribblenauts is excellent. If you have a child and haven’t downloaded it, do it! For anyone who doesn’t know, in Scribblenauts you play as a boy called Maxwell who has to help people with their problems by spawning items/creature, etc, or adding adjectives, through his notepad. So, on one occasion you come across a boy who can’t get past a bully. You select the notepad and can write the word “sword” to give the boy a sword to kill the bully. Or you could select the bully and give him the adjective “tiny” or “dead”. There are usually dozens of ways to solve the problem, often with funny results, and you get bonus points for using a different word every time. It’s really helping Nookie with her reading.

I won’t bother talking about how good Minecraft is. There are literally dozens of articles online about the benefits of Minecraft. I could go on about it all day. It really is fantastic.

Through her love of video games Nookie is learning to read and write. She is learning strategy, planning, problem-solving, patience. She is learning maths. She gets to practice design and creativity. The Sims 3 is really good for playing with design and expression. The ways you can dress your sims and make them look are virtually endless, as are the decorations for your homes. Nookie enjoys trying to make sims of her favourite cartoon characters. She has a My Little Pony family, for example, where each of the sims looks as close to a character as she can make them, and she has carefully thought about what each pony’s personality is like so she can choose those traits for her sims’ personalities.

Age of Empires is really good (if slightly advanced). In this game you play as a historic civilisation. You start off with a few villagers and a town centre, have to gather resources and quickly expand before you are defeated by your enemy’s civilisation. It’s a game that requires planning and forethought about how to efficiently use resources. Through it Nookie is not only learning strategy, she is also learning history. We’ve spoken about ancient civilisations and the way people used to live. It’s led to some very interesting discussions.

Video games are fun. I love them… always have. I was a big gamer growing up too. I was a child when the first Sony Playstation was released and my uncle, who used to babysit for us, would bring his around and let us stay up late watching him play Tomb Raider and Resident Evil. I spent hours on my Sega Master System growing up, playing Sonic the Hedgehog and Alex the Kid. As a teen I loved Rollercoaster Tycoon, The Sims, Age of Empires, Silent Hill and dozens of other games. They were a huge part of my childhood.

Nookie obviously loves games too. You’ll never see her more animated than when she is telling someone about her new favourite video game. Today her Nannie came over and she spent ten minutes talking non-stop about Yandere Simulator (my mum had no idea what she was talking about!). It’s her passion and she is VERY good at them! She’s five years old and she can beat me at some of them. It took me three days to play Octodad through when we first downloaded it. Nookie can play through the entire game now in a couple of hours (if you’ve never played Octodad you won’t know why it’s so difficult… download it and see for yourself).

So yeh, I’ll never understand why computer games are vilified like they are. There is so much substance to them… so much of value. Yes there is value in playing outside, or building Lego or painting a picture too, but show me an unschooled child who doesn’t do those things too. But denying children video games closes a whole rich avenue for them to learn from, and that’s a shame. I’m glad Nookie has found something that ignites her passion like it obviously does. Joy is something you can never have too much of!